Comesa deal hazy
So far only Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have signed the protocol while Burundi, Djibouti, Madagascar, Swaziland and Uganda have indicated that they are finalising studies and are likely to be ready for signature before the November Heads of State Summit later this year. This came to light during the just ended Council of Ministers Meeting held in the Rwandan capital Kigali ahead of the November Summit. According to information obtained from the Comesa secretariat in Lusaka, the 21st Ministers conference urged member states that have not signed the protocol to do so or come up with specific dates by the November summit. Concluding the meeting the ministers pledged to continue spearheading the implementation of agreed upon programmes in order to enhance regional integration. “The 21st Comesa Council of Ministers Meeting closed in Kigali, Rwanda . . . with the Ministers of Trade agreeing to continue implementing programmes that spearhead the regional integration agenda,” announced the Comesa secretariat. The Ministers also agreed to continue encouraging Member States that are not in the Free Trade Area (FTA) to join by November this year when the next Heads of State and Government Summit is expected to be held in Djibouti. Apart from recruiting more members into the FTA, the meeting agreed on the Comesa Customs Union and directed that all outstanding studies be completed so as to agree on the final roadmap by the time the Djibouti Summit takes place. The member states have been requested to expedite the implementation of the Comesa Fund and according to Comesa Secretary General Erastus Mwencha, the European Union has pledged 8 million Euros to assist the Fund while the African Development Bank (ADB) has also pledged support. Rwanda’s Minister of Trade Protais Mitari and Mwencha also reported that the meeting decided that Member States complete their various studies and report to the council and summit in November 2006. On Air transport facilitation, council decided that the Kalisinbi project ‘ CNS/ATM be adopted as a Comesa project. At the meeting two member States joined the regional grouping’s FTA-Union of Comoros and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Chairman of the Comesa Authority, Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the joining of the two countries bringing the number to 13 countries trading in the FTA. President Kagame announced the new members at the official opening of the meeting and he appealed to remaining Member States to join the FTA for the benefit of their people. Other Comesa member states participating in the FTA comprise Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Rwanda’s Minister of Trade Protais Mitari and Comesa Secretary General Mwencha closed the May meeting.